Series and that pesky muse #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Hello, lovely peeps, Doris here with my thoughts on series and how muses can frustrate not only us authors but also the readers.

I’ve touched on this subject before here, but it bears repeating, especially if you’re a panster like me.

I’m very, very aware that I have numerous series which still need completing, and yet, today sees the release of another new series, and I’ve had the acceptance on….. yep, you guessed it… anther new series.

*ducks the flying shoes*

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I can’t help it, readers, I really can’t. As it happens I’m writing book two of the new series now, and then I will make a concerted effort to get to all my other series and add to them. I’m well aware how frustrating it must be when you, the reader, are waiting for the next one in your favourite series and the author goes off on a tangent and writes something else.

I can only speak for myself, but we don’t do it on purpose. I promise, we don’t. Well, I certainly don’t. I would love to be able to write a series in order, but it’s just not the way my muse works.

If it did, it sure would make my life easier. What I can promise is that all of my outstanding series will, eventually, be added to.

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Now, I best get off here and carry on writing. Contrary muse permitting…

And big thanks to all my awesome readers.

Stay naughty, folks,

D xxx

 

Writing Series the Panster Way #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Happy Tuesday, folks, and Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you doing anything special with your loved one/s? Hubby and I will be going away for the weekend on Friday, and I can’t wait… I digress, however.

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Really, Doris, you do surprise us, I can hear you all groan now but bear with me.

Kacey wrote an excellent post on writing the first book in a series here. I found myself nodding along to a lot she said.  In particular the many series on the go—I haven’t dared count how many series I’ve got—only a handful of which are completed in my mind.

*points to muse standing in the naughty corner*

That same muse rolled her eyes and stuck her fingers in her ears singing tralalalalala when it came to the mention of planning a series, character sheets etc.

Say what?

Oh, believe me, I know that’s an excellent idea and when I find myself searching through previous stories in a series to make sure I’ve got the eye color right for that obscure character, I sure wish I’d at least written that down somewhere, but….you guessed it.

I never do. In my muse’s defense, she does usually remember these details because she will not let me tell anyone’s story until she’s figured this all out in her head, and throws the words at me. Or more accurately bombards me with it in my dreams, so that I have to get up the next day and start writing that story.

I’ve had two series, where I knew how many books were going to be in it. Two, out of thirteen. (Yes, I had to go and count them)

Out of those two, only one I managed to write one after the other, and that was after a long gap between book one and two.

I’m sure it must drive my readers round the proverbial bend, this tendency of mine to flit between series and standalones. It does my head in at times, because the one series I managed to write in order….oh yes, that is so much easier.

*shrugs*

Alas, us writerly types are slaves to our muses, and heaven help us when we don’t do as we are told. A muse in a sulky strop is no fun, I tell you. I’ve been there on a few occasions and the outcome is not pretty.

So, how then do you write a series when you’re a panster like me?

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Well, you wing it, of course.

That’s all well and good, Doris, I hear you say, but how is that helpful.

Okay, I’ll try and explain my haphazard process. Bear in mind this is the way my mind works and it may well not work for you at all, but here goes.

When it comes to the start of any series, they all have one thing in common. I have no idea at the start of writing that this story will evolve into a series. I simply write, and as the world builds and side characters step forward, I usually get the first inkling that, hang on a minute, this person needs a story, and ooh, I like this world, and what if…

Told you this was going to be jumbled post.

Sometimes the potential for a series doesn’t dawn on me until I get edits. I recall one occasion where my editor commented how much she was enjoying that world and what a shame that it wasn’t a series. So we came up with a series name and that was another series born.

In the vast majority of cases, it comes to me as I’m writing, however.

I’ve learned to listen to that insistent niggle and create a series, even when I have no earthly idea how many stories will be in that series.

I’ve just finished book six of a series like that. The first one was a fun little Romance on the Go story. As far as I was concerned that’s all it was going to be. Then, some time later, I got the idea for a bear shifter story, and as I was writing it, the best friend of the heroine in that little, fun, story I wrote turned out to be the roommate of the heroine, whose story I was writing now.

Say what?

Then came that lightbulb moment, and the rest is history. Like I said, I’ve just submitted book six in that series, and while I have no idea how many more books there will be, I know there will be more.

Again, I hear you ask, how can that possibly work?

Well, if you’re a panster, then you already know the answer to that question. You simply trust in your characters and it all somehow comes together. One of the great joys of writing a series is revisiting previous characters. That little glimpse into their HEA which makes me grin and gels them altogether.

This is where your world building comes in and your timeline. You will quite often find me being vague on things like children’s ages because of that timeline again…

If that heroine was pregnant three books ago, and the events in that series run continuously then she can’t have a baby in this book.

*smiles*

For me, at least, it’s fun to work out these little details, even if I do have to read back, and try and work it all out.

(Yes, I know character sheets would be such a good idea here!)

Really, if you can manage it, then do keep and use them. Do as I say not as I do in this case. 🙂

However, if you can’t, if your process seems completely counterproductive and time-consuming and you have no idea how it will ever work… As long as it does work, keep doing it. This is your process and don’t ever let anyone tell you it doesn’t.

This is, after all, what we’re trying to do here on the Naughty Quills. Give you pointers to help you find your own way.

Hence these jumbled thoughts of mine, because that’s the way I work, and I bet I’m not the only one like this.

I should add here that all my series can be read out of order, as each individual book is a standalone set in that series.

I’m sure I’ve completely confuzzled you all now, as we say in my house. Sorry about that, folks. Welcome to my world.

*grins*

That’s all from me today, you’ll be pleased to hear.

Do stay naughty, won’t you?

D xxx

Let’s talk #NaNoWriMo #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Happy Tuesday, folks, Doris here 🙂

As the title says, let’s talk NaNoWriMo. In case you’re not familiar with the acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and happens every November.

 

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To quote the site itself:

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. 

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

I can see you rolling your eyes and scratching your heads now. Why on earth would you want to do that, and is it even possible?

I can assure you it is indeed possible. I have participated in Nano for  the last six years and won five of them. All six novels are now published books, so, yes, you can do it, and you can produce a publishable novel. Just don’t go and rush that first draft off to your publisher on December 1st, will you.  Make sure you fix all your mistakes and that it actually makes sense. 🙂

Easy for you to say, I hear you say. You write fast, and you’re a seasoned writer now, so yours would make sense. Hmm, okay check what I said up there. I first joined in six years ago. I’ve only been published five come this November.

I well recall the first time I attempted this. It seemed an insurmountable task, but several of my writing friends signed up and I thought to myself, “Well, why not. No doubt, I fail, but hey. I’ll have given it a go.”

All I knew before I started on November 1st was, that my hero was a firefighter and that he would meet my heroine in Amsterdam, where she was on a hen do weekend. She had to approach him for a dare and ask him for his boxers.

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Source: Pinterest

That was it.

I had decided to blog about my endeavours and I would post a new chapter every day.

With some trepidation, I sat down to write, and you know what…. something magical happened. Whether it was the fact that my friends were eagerly waiting for every new chapter, or the thought that the world over clueless folks like me were sitting down at the keyboard attempting to do this thing, or the various stats and the handy word counter, which works wonders for my motivation… who knows.

I suspect it was a combination of everything of the above and the fact I discovered that I am indeed a panster. I write best when I have no clue what’s going to happen. I love the thrill of discovering what happens next along with my characters, and I tell you that was a real revelation for me.

I also learned that I need to listen to my characters. They are always right, and no matter what crazy thing they throw at me, it’ll come right in the end.

And that, for me at least, is the magic of Nano. You have to tell your inner editor to take a freaking hike and simply write.

Don’t agonize over it. Just see where those characters take you and hang on for the ride. And what a ride it will be, especially the first time you do it.

Worry about it all making sense when Nano is over, but you might well surprise yourself, and even if you don’t. If you feel you’ve  written the biggest drivel ever known to literature… that’s 50,000 words you didn’t have before and some of them, at least, will be salvageable.

And if you don’t win it? What then?

Well, then you take however many words you did manage to write and see  where they take you after the event. They are x amount of words you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I didn’t win Nano the second year I did it. I had a brand new baby, edits, and two releases that month, one of them my debut novel, so in retrospect, it wasn’t surprising that I didn’t manage to finish. I did write just over 36,000 words though and finished that story off later, so I still classed that as a win for me.

I am, of course, once again participating this year, and I’m looking forward to see what will happen. If you want to join me, become my buddy here.

Go on, go for it. What have you got to lose?

That’s all from me today.

Do stay naughty, folks.

D xxxx

It’s a Privilege… #TuesdayThoughts with Doris(@mamaD8)

Happy Tuesday, folks, Doris here. I must admit I didn’t have the foggiest idea what to write about today, mainly because my head is full of my current WIP’s characters dictating their story. We’re still not at the end… Another 10 K or so might do it, lol.

And then it hit me, as I was giggling out loud on the school run—of all places—as they told me another upcoming scene.

 

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It’s such  a privilege to be able to tell a story. To have these characters in your head telling you what to write. To have that prime time view into their developing relationship. To share the highs and the lows, to want to smack the hero upside the head for being a domineering Alpha who can’t see the end of his nose at times, and to fall in love with him at the same time as the heroine does. To delve into their back story and get to know these two or three (ménage anyone?) people.

Some writers know their characters inside out before they start writing a story. They have it all mapped out, and while they may deviate from the ending they envisaged, they pretty much stick to their outline.

I’m not one of those authors. I’m a  pantster through and through. I discover things about my characters as I write them. When you, the reader, gasp—well hopefully you’re not throwing your e-reader against the wall in disgust, eh 😉 —I’ll have been right there too while I was writing. I call them the Aha moments, those sudden insights into why a character acts like he/she does, and it all makes sense.

Aha Moment on Red Billboard.

The moments where I giggle to myself, or indeed shed a few tears or have to turn the fan on because it suddenly got too hot in the room.

Those moments make writing such fun, and why I keep writing.

We can all forget how much of a privilege it is to be able to not only draft these, stories, but to then have them accepted by a publisher, and to have readers fall in love with these characters you created.

Though, I’m not really sure I do create them. To me, they are very real, and I’m simply the author they chose to tell their story.

With that in mind, I best get back to my current couple.

That’s all from me today.

Do stay naughty, folks.

D xxx

Outline … what?#TuesdayThoughts from Doris (@mamaD8)

Hello, peeps, Doris here with her Tuesday Thoughts.  My fellow quills have done a great job of giving you tips on writing structure, character development, and outlining, but what, if like me, you look at some of that and go, “Say, whaaat?”

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It might surprise you to hear that I have never picked up a how-to-write book in my life. I did read a ton of articles on writing when I first started to seriously pursue publication, and while they were certainly helpful for terms like POV and black moment and such like, the whole mention of structure this and outlining that just left me scratching my head and more confused than ever.

It was only when I attended a workshop with one of my fav authors Heidi Rice in London, and she shared that she was actually a panster, that things became clear to me.

You see, I have a very unpredictable and hyperactive muse—I might have mentioned her a few times—and she gets very antsy when I try to get her to conform.

Nope, not gonna happen. She sulks and takes off to destinations unknown.

She works best when I let those random snippets of ideas she bombards me with on a daily basis bubble away in the deep, dark recesses of my brain, until such a time as that vague idea crystallizes for me.

I know if it’s going to work by the bubbles of excitement in my tummy when I start to write.

There is nothing scientific about this process. Writing, for me at least, is very instinctive, entirely character led and always an adventure. Even on those occasions when I have a rough outline in my head, the story never goes where I expect it to, and you know, that’s fine.

I know other writers, even other pansters can and do struggle with this approach. I read about them deleting several thousand words of story, and I always wince.

I can hand on heart say, I have never deleted anything. Gone back and added to it, yes, sure, I do that all the time to flesh out a scene, add more depths to a character etc., but not delete it.

In my case those random bits that crop up somehow by the end of the story make sense. It’s amazing when I get that aha moment and everything falls into place. It’s when magic happens and my fingers fly.

Inspired lightbulb character

Now, I will truly admit that with some stories it takes a long time before I hit that magic moment. I flounder about in the dark for a bit, blindly tapping away at the keyboard until the road ahead is suddenly clear….or not.

There is the odd manuscript sitting on my hard drive that I’ve stalled on, but eventually, those characters will start talking again, and when the time comes for that story to be told, it will.

I can see you all rolling your eyes at me now. This is all well and good, but how is any of this rambling helpful in our writing?

You can’t just sit there and hope for the best.

No, you’re right, you can’t, and there are the mechanics you do need to learn. Grammar, sentence structure, passive voice to name but a few, but what no one will be able to teach you is how to write, because every writer will have a different process and you know what?

It’s fine. It’s okay. You do what works for you.

I write best when I have no idea where the story is going, and I simply hang on for the ride. When all I get is a few scenes ahead of me and I somehow manage to get the characters there by simply letting them set the pace.

To another writer that idea would be utterly abhorrent. Just like keeping note books, character sheets, story arches outlined on whiteboards make me hyperventilate just thinking about them.

Don’t laugh, they do.

I didn’t submit a series to a publisher I was considering because I knew they’d want a series outline.

*shudders*

I can’t do that. I haven’t got one. Nine out of ten times I don’t even know how long a series is going to be, and on the rare occasion that I do know that in advance, I still have no clue about the actual stories I’m going to write in that series, until I sit down and actually start to write.

Are you confused yet?

Well, don’t be. It’s really quite simple, at least in my book. You’re either a story teller, or you’re not. You’re either itching to bring those characters in your head to life or you’re not.

You either live to write or you don’t.

In my case I’ve always spun stories in my head, from as early on as I can remember. And I read, and read, and read. Anything I could lay my hands on, and in particular romance. From the old over the top tropes M&B was so famous for, to young adult, inspirational, and erotic romance and erotica. Sci-fi, historical, paranormal, didn’t matter to me.

If the blurb caught my eye, I’d read it, and that right there, is where I, at least, absorbed the mechanics of storytelling.

I learnt yet more when I actually started writing. Every rejection, every precious bit of feedback, every editor I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with has taught me something new, and my stories and my writing are constantly evolving, and that, peeps, is what every writer should strive to do.

Hone your craft, improve, and above all keep writing. It’s the only way to become better at it.

I shall stop rambling now, you’ll be relieved to hear, lol. If you found a writing resource that helped you, feel free to let me know in the comments. Chances are my muse will pale and back away slowly, but they might help someone else. Just like I hope my post today has helped the other hopeless pansters out there.

Keep on flying by the seat of your pants, I say, and don’t let anyone tell you that’s not the way to write. If it works for you, then it most certainly is, and added bonus. It’s fun!

Do stay naughty, folks

D xxx